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Give a moment to our Military Dead

Today, heading to school, I caught a glimpse of the most heart-stopping sky: it was a sea of roiling clouds, a dark cantata of a dozen shades of grey, spewing forth streams of silver reminding me, as I shivered in the chill air, surrounded by the riotous crimsons and golds of leaves in their death throws, that the time of the Wild Hunt is upon us. 

With November comes the cold, the first promise of winter. With November comes Odin, for to many of us who venerate Him, this is His month, and with Odin comes the Wild Hunt. With November also comes Veterans Day and hard on the heels of the ancestor festivals of late October, it's a good reminder to take a moment to honor our military dead. 

We all have them. We're here because of them: our military ancestors, our warrior ancestors, those hard-focused men and women who did what was necessary to ensure their people's survival. good or bad, path chosen or taken up out of cruel necessity, each of us has soldiers and fighters in our line. The least we can do is take a day, as the land itself churns up memento mori all around us, to remember those who suffered, sacrificed, died...or who suffered, sacrificed and did not die but returned home to families and communities forever alien to the hum of their people, forever changed and scarred by their experiences in war. It is right and proper, I think, to pay homage to these men and women. Some of them were little more than children. Each year, during the fall term, when I'm hard at work teaching a class of mostly freshmen, Veterans Day rolls around and I think about what it commemorates. I think about our two world wars, and how the first wiped out nearly a generation of men...many younger than the boys and girls sitting in my classroom. i think about what it meant for my grandparents' generation, the absences torn in the fabric of their communities and families and I know that while we may or may not agree with the purpose of a war itself, we can honor those who served precisely for their service. 

My House will be doing that this Saturday, in ritual, as a community. On Veterans Day proper, I'll be making offerings at my military dead shrine, but every day I remember and that awareness shapes every breath. 

I looked at the sky and the trees and felt the bite of the wind this afternoon and I thought, struck hard by the realization "this autumn will not come again. " Oh, we will have autumns. Next year the trees will do their dying dance of color again, and the time of the Hunt will come, but *this* autumn, this moment caught in the liminal place of my mind and heart, that will pass away like those crumbling leaves. It is good to remember and to mark such passages as best we can. 

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 Galina Krasskova is a Heathen priest, author, and Northern Tradition shaman. She holds a Masters degree in Religious Studies and is currently working toward a PhD in Classics. Galina is the author of several books including “Essays in Modern Heathenry” and “Skalded Apples: A Devotional Anthology to Idunna and Bragi.”
(Photo by Hudson Valley photographer Mary Ann Glass.)

Comments

  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer Saturday, 09 November 2013

    "Anthem for Doomed Youth"
    by Wilfred Owen

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
    The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

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